The difference between being a brand new injury-free fitness instructor versus one that has been around the block a few times is pretty significant. For the most part, we start off teaching a million classes a week, all really high energy and high impact. We ignore the feeling that our ankles have just about been battered through our foot and that insane tiredness where we plaster on a smile for 59 minutes and can’t actually remember what happened at any given point during that session.
We listen to our gurus and our favourite people…. I remember that one time someone who I LOVE told me that Aqua is a really good way to save the body. She lied. It really isn’t. Tuck jumping on a wet concrete floor in 45,000 degrees is not saving the body. Not in my world anyway!
As we move through our teaching career, we find our own balance. Whether we alternate our intense workouts with more sedate sessions or we find a love for those where we can ‘Show & Go’, we all find a way to save our joints and still do the job that we love. We have a physio on speed dial, we do our rehab and we try and find time to do our own workouts. But somehow it never feels enough, and there is always one more thing we think we should be doing to look after ourselves.
As someone with scoliosis who is not allowed to run anymore (sad times), here are my top tips to saving your body with a career in group ex:
Relaxing - ummmm, yeah I know, it’s something we are beyond crap at. But it’s true. We need to relax…. So our brains can switch off, so we can improve our breathing, our mental health and then overall the stress that we put on our body. You know when you get to that point where you could cheerfully chew off someone’s face because they told you they had to miss class? Well we don’t want to get there, we want to feel zen, it’s better for our body, it’s better for our attention span and it keeps all our stress hormones in check. A few hours of here and there is a real must!
Workouts & Rehab - prioritise your rehab every time. If you have extra time, train your core and glutes. If you have even more time, then go in on the resistance training. It doesn’t matter whether you are into yoga, pilates, lifting weights, calisthenics or CrossFit. Your first port of call when you get 30 minutes for your own training should be your rehab and then the things that are going to help prevent injury down the line. If you don’t get time to do full workouts, then chill, try and get that ass & abs workout in and jobs a good’un. Chances are you really don’t need to do any more cardio, so take some pressure off yourself and cross that straight off the list.
Nutrition - I remember it well. Sitting in my car drinking my 450th Red Bull of the day because I couldn’t eat anything that might sit heavy in my next class. But it really wasn’t sustainable…. And it really didn’t make me feel that good. There are a million better ways to get on-the-go energy without resorting to an energy drink so take the time to find something that works for you. Check out Awesome Supplements carb & electrolyte drinks for athlete level support. Use AMF05 to save 5%.
Reducing impact in your own class - I know, you’re injured but if you don’t do it high impact then they don’t do it high impact. Apart from they will, if you teach them. Don’t wait until you are injured before you start letting them know they can add in their own power, their own impact and own intensity throughout the workout. By giving autonomy in our classes over weeks and months, when we are injured, or even just when we are absolutely mashed up before we take a break, we can still motivate our clients with our mouths without having to join them in the 527th jack of the day.
Re-assess what you offer - you are completely in control of choosing your own timetable….so why don’t you consider retraining in something that will give you the freedom to let your body recover. It could even be as energetic as HIIT - because you absolutely do not need to join in more than 3 reps of a HIIT workout before you need to demo low impact options, coach and motivate. Think yoga, pilates, some forms of aqua (definitely not Aqua Zumba though lol!), resistance training that requires reps & sets and not choreography, padwork based classes such as Boxercise, some mega easy to follow choreographed classes that involve more motivation and less on the job copying. There really is a LOT of classes that require more coaching than they do participation from the instructor and it is probably the best way I have found to do what I love whilst letting my body have a break.
We have an incredible job, but as we are the product, it’s definitely worth investing in some self-care of some description. We are not all the same and we do not all need the same thing, but we do need to look after ourselves, because, let’s be honest, we all want to be able to sell our bodies right up until our retirement.
If you’re looking for some ways to add less intense classes to your schedule, check our Natalie’s Flow masterclass this Thursday. Click here for more information and to book (members yours are free, please don’t pay for anything!)